The Film School – The Artist Way
Last night I went to a lecture at The Film School’s monthly
Tuesday event at the Roy Street Coffee House. Aside from simply
being in the same room with the legendary Mr. Tom Skerritt, the
lecture wasn’t bad either. It was given by the lovely and talented
Gin Hammond. Gin spoke to us about the Artist Way. There are a
few books I’ve read in my life that I consider pure magic; Thomas
Moore’s, Care of the Soul, Eckart Towel’s The Power of Now,
Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Miracles and the Julia Cameron’s the Artist Way.
For those of you who are not familiar, check out Julia Cameron’s Artist Way (it may change your life). It will at the very least help you delve deeper into yourself as a writer, a healer, a seeker.
One of the many, many things Julia asks us to do is to write a letter to ourselves. For those of you who do know the book, you’ll understand this bit; when I came home I pulled out my battered, fully read, fully worked – now tinged with mold because I read it 12 years ago in the graveyards of Ireland in the rain – and I opened that crumpled letter I wrote to myself.
At the top of the letter I wrote a quote from the book, by C.G. Jung; Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.
Below the quote I scribbled a few lines about figuring out how to make money as a writer, and how to overcome the grief of losing my sister and my best friend to cancer both within 6 months of one another. But, mostly I wrote about my Father; what dark mystery happened to him in the Korean War – that ‘forgotten’ war I can’t seem to forget. What haunted him and prevented him from being fully present, not only in our lives, but his own. What left him paralyzed and unable to live a normal life? What did he do? What was done to him? I’ll never know. So how do I find peace with that?
The letter went on and on about some other things I’d like to achieve in my life. Many of them have already been realized. But what struck me was that, without realizing it, about 3 years after I wrote that letter, folded it in half and tucked it away, I began the novel I am finishing now. I began by sitting on the beach in Manzanita Oregon where my father is buried, writing a journal as if I was a Korean War vet with a lingering history. I may never know what my father’s dark past was, but I’ve found a way to create one for him that satisfies me on some level, and that honors him and whatever he experienced there.
What struck me like a cold slap to the face was that I had found the answers to the unanswerable questions I asked all my life and finally wrote down 12 years ago. Questions Dad would never, could never respond to, but instead drank himself to death, taking his secrets with him.
So, if you wrote yourself letters when you worked through the Artist Way, take them out, read them. How have you done? If you haven’t read the Artist Way, do.
If you’re interested in The Film School check out their upcoming events, or enroll in classes, which I plan to do as soon as I finish my novel about a soldier in the Koran War who returns home with secrets too heavy to bear. Visit Julia Cameron’s site where she generously has many of the tools and much of the book there for you to learn from. There is also the Seattle Artist Way Center for additional information.